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An experiment in automatic watering

I just finished setting up my automatic watering system yesterday, and wanted to share it. I realized earlier this week that my plants would need to be watered while I was on spring break, and because it would be nearly impossible to find a way to get someone to water them for me, I figured I needed to setup an automatic watering system. I found a cheap 12v pump and vinyl tubing on amazon, and used a 10 gallon fish tank for a water reservoir. To control everything I am using a raspberry pi with a relay board. Currently, it just waters everything every two days, but eventually I plan on adding in water level sensors so the plants only get watered when they need to be. Though I am only using one pump, it is able to water multiple shelves using a method I found in a video posted by Meadoview where the water flows down to the next shelf when it reaches a certain level (the pictures below might demonstrate this better). This is only version 1.0, so any recommendations for future upgrades are welcome, and thanks for looking!


"water reservoir" and pump


Water comes into the top shelf via this tube


And when the water level gets above this tube, it drains to the next level


And enters the lower shelf here


Finally, any excess water drains back into the reservoir


The brains of the whole operation
Let us know how well it works! I've been interested in setting up something like that myself. Having a collection of plants that need so much water sure makes it difficult to go on vacations otherwise.
Brollocks, those are some interesting links. I also did a fair bit of research before starting this project, and plan on adding a temp/humidity sensor, and possibly soil moisture sensors in the future. Eventually I think I want to get a larger relay board and have the pi control everything including lighting, humidity, temperature, and water levels. I will keep this post updated as I continue, and can post any code if there is interest in it (currently its only ~10 lines of code, but I'm sure that will change). Thanks for the reply!
Very nice system, I'm interesting to see it evolve too!

I'm also playing quite a lot with RasPi and arduino lately. As a possible upgrade I would suggest you to have a look at the MySensors project. Especially three are 2 threads about plant monitoring and hydroponics that could be of interest for you. I always preferred having the Pi far from any humidity source as it tends to short easily and it's overall pretty fragile, compared to an arduino.

Basically it creates a 2.4GHz mesh network of arduini controlled by a RasPi running one of the compatible controllers (such as DomoticZ).
I still have to do a proper post on my current projects, but so far it's working great controlling 12V RGB LED strips, 12V fan, Temp+Hum sensor, Lux sensor in a mini greenhouse/seed starting box.

Nice, if you use a taller exit tube with a couple small holes at the level you want to keep the water for the bottom water, you can achieve more ebb-flow effect. In other words, when the pump is on, it will fill up the tray high so that the pots are soaked in water in an attempt to reduce salt build up (and air exchange). Then the water gradually leak down and go back to the normal level of bottom water. The leaching time is controlled by the size/number of the small holes.

Here is something similar (timer controlled) which I did for my Disa.
Orchid Borealis: DIY compact ebb-flow system

I also use opaque storage tank to reduce algal growth.

You should make sure that the outlet tube doesn't get clogged up easily. A fallen leaf stuck there could over flow, and your floor won't appreciate it!